Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

Felix Morrow's book, written in the white heat of the struggle, remains a Marxist classic on the Spanish Civil war. It is one of the clearest account produced of the movement of the Spanish masses, describing the events in Catalonia and the role of all those involved. This book provides an excellent companion to Ted Grant's 1973 article and the writings of Leon Trotsky on this question and deserves to be studied by all class-conscious activists.

We republish here the ‘Report on the World Economic Crisis and the New Tasks of the Communist International’, written by Leon Trotsky in June 1921. In this masterpiece of perspectives, which is highly relevant to the world situation to day, Trotsky analyses the nature of the organic, global crisis of capitalism, of a system being suffocated by its own mountains of debt, speculation and inflation.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born 250 years ago on 27 August 1770 into a petty-bourgeois family in the German city of Stuttgart. A towering genius with an encyclopaedic mind, Hegel revolutionised every field that he dedicated himself to. The impact of Hegel’s ideas cannot be underestimated, and as Marxists we owe him a tremendous debt.

In 1988 Alan Woods interviewed Esteban Volkov (Leon Trotsky's grandson) in a room in the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacan, of which he is the curator. On the night of 24 May 1940, Esteban Volkov, then only 14 years old, was wounded in a brutal machine-gun attack by Stalinist supporters, from which the Trotsky family miraculously escaped alive. Sixty-six years after the murder of Leon Trotsky (20 August 2006), we republished this interview dealing with the various assassination attempts on Trotsky and his family.

It is now fifty years since the publication of the first edition of this work. It was written as a reply to Monty Johnstone, who was a leading theoretician of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Johnstone had published a reappraisal of Leon Trotsky in the Young Communist League's journal Cogito at the end of 1968. Alan Woods and Ted Grant used the opportunity to write a detailed reply (published 12 July 1969) explaining the real relationship between the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. This was no academic exercise. It was written as an appeal to the ranks of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League to rediscover the truth about Trotsky and return to the original

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An article by our British comrades at Socialist Appeal (‘Storytelling, “culture wars” and the Left’) has drawn the ire of ‘left-wing’ journalist Paul Mason. He said that our “mouldering” organisation needs to abandon its outdated worldview. Alan Woods explains that the thin gruel of Mason’s post-modernism is no substitute for the science of Marxism.

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped to shine a light on Britain’s own racist, colonial history. Fiona Lali looks at the origins of British capitalism, which came into being – in the words of Marx – with “blood dripping from every pore”.

David Harvey is a university professor and a geographer who describes himself as a Marxist. His series of video lectures on Capital have been viewed by hundreds of thousands as a new generation of young people became interested in Marxism in the wake of the 2008 crisis. For these reasons, his recent statement that he is against the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism has logically caused a stir.